Community resilience strategies
A number of countries have published community resilience strategies or frameworks. In this activity we will take a brief look at key aspects of selected approaches.
The promotion of community resilience in the UK is part of a national security strategy in which a broad range of parties have a role to play, including the emergency services, local and central government, businesses, communities and individuals (Cabinet Office 2016, 2019).
The approach is to devolve responsibility for promoting and supporting community resilience to local emergency responders – in particular, local government emergency planners are advised to consider the needs of the community and engage community members when developing and delivering services to them.
There is also an emphasis on working closely with the private and voluntary sectors.
The Scottish Government guidance advocates taking an approach to building community resilience based on the concept of community development. This is explained as providing individuals and groups with the knowledge and skills they need to effect change in their own communities through a process of engagement, education, empowerment and encouragement (Scottish Government 2013).
In February 2011 New Zealand suffered one of its worst ever disasters in the Christchurch earthquake. The collective trauma of the event highlighted the need to be prepared for a range of future risks. The National Disaster Resilience Strategy came into effect on 10 April 2019 with the ambition to integrate disaster resilience into all parts of society. It requires a shared approach between central and local government, relevant stakeholders, and the wider public. One of three key priorities is:
Enabling, empowering, and supporting community resilience.
(Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management 2019)
There are six objectives under this priority summarised as:
Enable and empower individuals, households, organisations, and businesses to build their resilience
Cultivate an environment for social connectedness which promotes a culture of mutual help
Take a whole of city/district/region approach to resilience
Address the capacity and adequacy of critical infrastructure systems
Embed a strategic, resilience approach to recovery planning to build back better
Recognise the importance of culture to resilience, and to enable the participation of different cultures
The high-level strategy sets out what is planned to be achieved over the next 10 years with a roadmap to be followed to achieve the objectives. There is a recognition of the need to:
Strengthen the voice and capacity of stakeholders (including the public, and any groups disproportionately affected by disasters), to demand greater accountability and responsiveness from authorities and service providers.
(National Disaster Resilience Strategy 2019)
Appendix 1 sets out a challenge for everyone under the heading: What can I do?
Appendix 2 gives a baseline overview of strengths, barriers, and opportunities to build resilience.
An example at the city/region level is the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office strategy, which places social networks to address day-to-day challenges at its core (WREMO 2012).
In 2013, Australia adopted the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (NSDR) (Commonwealth of Australia 2011) emphasising a collective responsibility for resilience: government at all levels, business, NGOs and volunteers, and individuals. The strategy highlights the role of climate change as a fundamental national security challenge. Common characteristics of disaster resilient communities, individuals and organisations are listed as:
Functioning well under stress
There is an emphasis on educating about risks, partnerships, leadership and empowering individuals and communities to take responsibility. Greater flexibility and adaptability within the emergency services and communities is identified to increase capacity to deal with disasters. This requires a change in behaviour of the emergency services to broaden their remit to include closer community engagement.
In a report exploring the implementation of the Australian disaster resilience policy (Hunt 2017) it was observed that the level of funding provided for post-disaster recovery has been estimated at about 10 times the amount allocated to prevention and risk mitigation. This is inconsistent with the evidence from cost benefit analyses supporting investment in disaster mitigation and preparedness.
Subsidiarity is identified to guide disaster resilience policy implementation. That is, that matters are handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralised competent authority. This is demonstrated by the Lake Macquarie City Council (LMCC) Local Adaptation Plan for Flooding, with its emphasis on local community engagement (Lake Macquarie City Council 2016).
An example of a state-level community resilience framework is the Community Resilience Framework for Emergency Management in Victoria (Emergency Management Victoria 2017).
Linking and sharing
Members of the Norfolk Resilience Forum in the UK have taken ideas from community development practice and WREMO in New Zealand to develop their own Community Resilience Strategy.
Through linking with partners globally and sharing ideas these strategies are being developed, not in isolation, but based on proven methods and lessons learned. A challenge is to maintain these links and an active living strategy that is revised and updated based on community feedback and experience.
Can you find examples of strategies from low and middle income countries – how might the challenges of implementation vary between different economic contexts?
Cabinet Office (2016) Community Resilience Framework for Practitioners [online]. available from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-resilience-framework-for-practitioners [19 August 2019]
Cabinet Office (2019) Community Resilience Development Framework [online]. available from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-resilience-development-framework
Scottish Government (2013) Building Community Resilience: Scottish Guidance On Community Resilience [online]. available from https://www2.gov.scot/Publications/2013/04/2901 [19 August 2019]
Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (2019) National Disaster Resilience Strategy [online]. available from https://www.civildefence.govt.nz/cdem-sector/plans-and-strategies/national-disaster-resilience-strategy/ [19 August 2019]
WREMO (2012) Wellington Region Emergency Management Office Community Resilience Strategy [online]. available from https://wremo.nz/publications/strategies/ [19 August 2019]
Council of Australian Governments (2011) National Strategy for Disaster Resilience [online]. available from https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/national-strategy-for-disaster-resilience/ [19 August 2019]
Hunt, S. (2017) ‘Implementing Disaster Resilience Policy in the Australian Federation’. M. Rumsewicz (ed.) Research Forum 2017: Proceedings from the Research Forum at the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC Conference held 4-6 September 2017 at Sydney, Australia. Melbourne: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Lake Macquarie City Council. (2008) ‘Planning for Coastal and Flood Hazards in a Changing Climate: Lake Macquarie City Council Action’ [online]. available from https://www.lgnsw.org.au/files/imce-uploads/35/lake-macquarie-city-council-sea-level-rise-and-flooding.pdf [19 August 2019]
Norfolk Resilience Forum (2015) Norfolk Community Resilience Strategy – Enabling Communities to Prepare for, Respond to and Recover from Emergencies [online]. available from http://www.norfolkprepared.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/NRF-CRes-Strategy-2015-FINAL-screen-online-version.pdf [19 August 2019]
Emergency Management Victoria (2017) Community Resilience Framework for Emergency Management [online]. available from https://www.emv.vic.gov.au/CommunityResilienceFramework [19 August 2019]
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0